Reading Body Language at Work: Five Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

November 2009
by Carol Kinsey Goman

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Reading Body Language at Work: Five Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

by Carol Kinsey Goman

Human beings are genetically programmed to look for facial and behavioral cues and to quickly understand their meaning. We see someone gesture and automatically make a judgment about the intention of that gesture.

And we’ve been doing this for a long, long time. As a species, we knew how to win friends and influence people—or avoid/placate/confront those we couldn’t befriend—long before we knew how to use words.

But our ancient ancestors faced threats and challenges very different from those we confront in today’s modern society, with its layers of social restrictions and nuanced meanings adding to the intricacies of our interpersonal dealings. This is especially true in workplace settings, where each corporate culture adds its own complexities and guidelines for correct behavior.

No matter what the culture at your workplace, the ability to read nonverbal signals can provide significant advantages for the way you deal with people. You can start to gain those advantages by avoiding these five common mistakes.

1. Forgetting to consider the context. Imagine this scene: It’s a freezing-cold winter evening with a ligh…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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